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China’s arrogance unites rivals in the United States




Hold the celebration.

Photographer: Naohiko Hatta / Getty Images

Over the past century, globally ambitious autocracies have often made two fatal mistakes. First, they underestimated the United States, a country whose chaotic democracy masks its formidable resilience and strength. Second, they haven’t seen how their own aggressive behavior will end up driving their multiplying enemies together. Judging by recent events, Xi Jinping’s China is making both mistakes at the same time.

Xi doesn’t think much of America at the moment. In speeches he has mentionned that “the world undergoes changes seen once a century” like China mounted and the United States is hesitant. In a meeting with officials from Joe Biden’s administration in Alaska last month, his diplomats ridiculed the idea that a divided and distracted America could speak to Beijing from a “position of strength.”

A country that has suffered more than 550,000 deaths from Covid-19, which has seen its capital sacked by its own citizens and which has spent four years under President Donald Trump attacking the international system, is in great difficulty , according to Chinese propaganda organizations Argue. Why shouldn’t Beijing push for advantage in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, and many other fronts at once?

Still, Xi might not sound so confident if he looked at the story a little more. In the years leading up to WWII, Adolf Hitler correctly expected America’s eventual hostility, but he recklessly belittled its purpose and strength. During much of the Cold War, Joseph Stalin and his Soviet successors argued that the “correlation of forces” was moving in favor of socialism. So there came a shock when, in the 1980s, the economic and military resurgence of the United States left a dying Soviet Union far behind.

Leaders of systems based on harsh political discipline have often scoffed at the difficulties of a broken democracy – to the point where that democracy invokes its power and buries their geopolitical ambitions.

Aggressive autocrats also find it difficult to see how the usual belligerence can pull the geopolitical knot around their own necks. Hitler’s aggression ultimately led the major capitalist powers, the United States and the United Kingdom, to forge an unlikely alliance with the main Communist power, the Soviet Union. At the start of the Cold War, Stalin believed that the Soviet Union would triumph because the capitalist world would tear itself apart again. He did not foresee that his own threatening behavior would cause the capitalist world to pull itself together and leave the communist world behind.

Xi is on a similar path today. The United States may appear to be in advanced domestic decline. But its problems are not much worse than they were in 1937, when the country was mired in a seemingly endless depression, or in 1968, when its cities were ablaze with protests and violence far exceeding what is known. happened last summer, or 1979, when America was beset by stagflation and unrest. On the contrary, Xi should be more worried about China’s long-term prospects, including imminent The economic, financial and demographic challenges make America’s admittedly serious problems seem rather easy to solve.

He should also be worried about the return of the global offensive from China. After a fatal beating with Chinese soldiers in the Himalayas, India has accelerated its long and gradual movement towards the United States Since Beijing renounced the rule of law in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom has spoken join the Quad – now comprising Australia, India, Japan and the United States – and seeking to limit its technological dependence on China.

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